Funding increases announced for hospitals
The following are brief reports of items discussed at the March 29 meeting of the Haliburton Highlands Health Services board of directors.
CEO Carolyn Plummer told the board the provincial government had announced an investment of $822 million for Ontario hospitals in their budget “with the goal to providing better access to care, reducing wait times, addressing capacity issues and better meeting the needs of Ontario’s growing and aging population,” she wrote in her report to the board.
“The budget does indicate there will be a minimum of one per cent increase to hospital budgets. We are hopeful we will be able to benefit from that in the near future. That would be applied to our upcoming fiscal year,” she said.
Asked whether the funding could be counted on if the current Liberal government does not win a majority in the June provincial election, Plummer said she was confident in the HHHS budget, but wasn’t as sure about all of the promised spending.
“I can tell you that all of the budget announcements that have been made, all of the additional funding increases that have been talked about, we didn’t include any of those in our budget plan for the upcoming year. We are confident we are set as long as they don’t mess with what we’ve already got,” she said.
The Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care has also announced 30,000 new long-term care beds in Ontario. Plummer said in her report that during the master planning for HHHS, “we will examine what might be possible to determine how we can best take advantage of this opportunity to help support the growing need for long-term care in our community.”
Break-even at year end
Finance committee chairman David Gray reported to the board that once everything is taken into account, he expects that the health corporation would be in a break-even position March 31.
He highlighted some of the year’s successes, including hundreds of thousands of dollars in grants for energy efficiency, emergency repairs and other initiatives.
“This is a remarkable accomplishment achieved by the staff of this organization that dug in and made this thing work,” said Dave Bonham, board chairman.
More volunteers than staff
Plummer took time to note that Volunteer Appreciation Week is on the horizon, the week of April 15, and that “between HHHS and the HHHS Foundation we actually have more volunteers than we do staff.” Volunteers help with Community Support Services programs, in long-term care, in acute care, on boards of directors, in the auxiliaries and at the foundation. To recognize that dedication, there will be two events: one at the Haliburton facility on April 17 at 1 p.m. and the other on April 18 in Minden at 1 p.m.
Quality improvement targets
HHHS has submitted its annual quality improvement plan to Health Quality Ontario and it’s been posted to the corporation’s website for the public to peruse. In it is a summary of the actions taken over the last year and the goals for the year to come.
Linda Hunter, the interim VP clinical services, gave the board a summary of what the documents entail.
Last year’s achievements include “building a foundational culture of quality and safety for staff and physicians” as well as effectively tracking the medications and conditions of patients who use HHHS, ensuring they are given proper medications.
“We’re also doing well in palliative care, both in the hospital and the community,” Hunter said.
Challenges to tackle in the year ahead include reducing the number of days people are in acute care when they should be elsewhere as well as “focusing on both falls and pressure ulcers in the long-term care area and falls also in the hospital area.”
Community Paramedicine provincial example
Nearly 100 people have been enrolled with the Community Paramedicine Program since it started in October, Plummer told the board.
The partnership between the Haliburton County Paramedic Service and HHHS assigns a specially trained paramedic to do home visits for patients. Up until recently, all patients were connected with the program through the GAIN team, which cares for frail seniors.
Plummer said the program “is now about to expand to accept referrals from other health service providers such as physicians and Family Health Team staff.”
The program helps keep seniors in their homes longer, gives family members peace of mind and allows the GAIN team to reach out more regularly to their patients.
“Currently, it is the only community paramedicine program in Ontario that involves this type of partnership and is now being seen as a leading practice for the province,” Plummer said.
Mental health services
to distribute Naloxone kits
Although the health unit gives out Naloxone kits in the community for opioid overdoses, “the need for access to Naloxone has continued to increase,” Plummer reported.
Mental health services through HHHS will soon be a distribution site for the drug, which is an antidote to an opioid overdose.
HHHS staff will provide training for community members who pick up the kits on how to use the nasal spray. “This will enable family members as well as clients and individuals who use opioids to be proactively prepared in case of an overdose.”